Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

84                Mind and Matter

The puzzle which puzzles every atom is the puzzle which
puzzles ourselvesa conflict of dutiesour duty towards
ourselves, and our duty as members of a body politic. It
is swayed by its sense of being a separate thingof having
a life to itself which nothing can share; it is also swayed
by the feeling that, in spite of this, it is only part of an indi-
viduality which is greater than itself and which absorbs it.
Its action will vary with the predominance of either of these
two states of opinion. .

Unity and Multitude

We can no longer separate things as \ve once could : every-
thing tends towards unity; one thing, one action, in one
place, at one time. On the other hand, we can no longer
unify things as we once could; we are driven to ultimate
atoms, each one of which is an individuality. So that we
have an infinite multitude of things doing an infinite multi-
tude of actions in infinite time and space ; and yet they are
not many things, but one thing.

The Atom

The idea of an indivisible, ultimate atom is inconceivable
by the lay mind. If we can conceive an idea of the atom
at all, we can conceive it as capable of being cut in half ;
indeed, we cannot conceive it at all unless we so conceive
it. The only true atom, the only thing which we cannot
subdivide and cut in half, is the universe. We cannot cut a
bit off the universe and put it somewhere else. Therefore,
the universe is a true atom and, indeed, is the smallest piece
of indivisible matter which our minds can conceive ; and they
cannot conceive it any more than, they can the indivisible,
ultimate atom.

Our Cells

A string of young ducklings as they sidle along through
grass beside a ditchhow like they are to a single serpent!
I said in Life and Habit that a colossal being, looking at the
earth through a microscope, would probably think the ants
and flies of one year the same as those of the preceding year.